Poaching Your Competitor's Keywords: Good Or Bad Strategy?

We’ve all done product or service searches, only to see competing results pop up. Odds are you think this tactic is annoying -- but is it ultimately successful?

The study surveyed more than 1,000 online ads over a three-month period. The team used that data as a basis for judging the types of ads that are likely to be effective and those likely to backfire. Some of the findings:

• When ads appeared by themselves, the professors found that stressing quality was most effective for poaching a high-quality brand’s search traffic and achieving click-through rates more than double those of control ads.



• Stressing distinguishing characteristics was most effective for poaching lower-end brands.

• People who search for high-end brands are concerned with quality, so they are receptive to ads that stress that aspect of a product. But those who search for lower-end brands are more interested in ads that speak to specific features they’re seeking.

• In cases in which ads for the poacher and poachee appeared together, the study found that the type of ad no longer made any difference, but what mattered was the status of the poachee. Users clicked on ads that poached a high-end brand more than those that poached a low-end brand.

The study also found that when the ads for both the poacher and poachee were closer together, the poacher would get more clicks. That suggested that users were seriously evaluating the relative merits of each business rather than clicking an ad out of curiosity or confusion.

Overall, the study found that running competing ads in search results can work when the ads stressed the right aspects of a product.

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